Foundations Program

Art History student participating in an academic conference
2D studio student focuses as she paints a canvas
Students working with metals in 3D studio area
 Interbrand representative working with communication design students
 A row of students work on drawings in class
 Saturday Art teacher helps child with art project
 Students hold a large colorful painting against the wall as the director of Hiestand Galleries looks on

An innovative foundations program for 21st century art and design

The Department of Art recently implemented a modular foundations curriculum. The program is fundamental to all the majors in the department and we have structured it in a way that each degree program can tailor the courses to best meet their needs.

Benefits of the Modular Format

  • Presents students with a fuller picture of the different areas.
  • Delivers both in-depth and more focused learning experiences.
  • Allows students to take prerequisites in a more flexible order providing more flexibility for concentrations.
  • Supports more effective curriculum management by crafting specific, topic-based courses. Works well with our current teaching resources (adjuncts, GTAs)
  • Communicates clearly to students course content and expectations.
  • Creates a summative learning experience by developing junctures that require students to pull information together between courses—forging connections between topics.
  • Repeats important learning objectives in different ways/formats throughout the curriculum.
  • Introduces foundations objectives and vocabulary to encourage more fluidity between media and materials.
  • Offers an accessible course structure for co-majors, minors and double majors thus benefiting departmental recruitment and retention.


Full semester, 3 credit courses

ART111: Design and Composition
This is an introductory course focusing on the design elements and design principles in two, three, and four dimensions. Students will practice idea generation, good craftsmanship, and design vocabulary. Class will consist of discussions, presentations, quizzes, and critiques. Projects will be completed in some of the following media: paper, assemblage, cardboard, plaster, found object, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. A laptop computer and Adobe Creative Suite/Cloud are required tools for this course.

ART121: Observational Drawing
This studio course introduces the students to the basic theory and practice of drawing. Through variety of observational drawing activities, students will develop perceptual drawing skills; become versatile with achromatic drawing media such as graphite and charcoal; and gain conceptual and practical understanding of composing two-dimensional space. Lectures, demonstrations, critiques, and critical readings will complement the hands-on-learning process.

Half semester (sprint), 1.5 credit courses

ART102: Color Theory
This course will introduce the students to basic theory, physical properties, and use of color through hands-on projects, readings, lecture, discussion, and critiques. During the 7-week sprint course period, students will develop various short and long-term projects that apply color in 2d, 3d, and 4d mediums. Students will learn how color is made and manipulated, what color looks like, the cultural context that gives color meaning.

ART103: Creative Technology
Students will investigate strategies for integrating contemporary media tools into their art and design practice through a series of exercises and projects. As a part of this investigative strategy, students will be introduced to relevant digital technologies for creative output as well as publicizing their artwork such as personal websites, pdf, and social media.

ART104: Problem Solving
This course considers the role and processes of “thinking” as an integral tool of art making, considered in its relation to the training of the hand and the eye. Students will be asked to solve problems, old and new, and to identify and create new problems. Problems are understood here in an abstract sense — they may come in the form of materials, situations, social encounters and more. At the end of the course the student should be able to demonstrate an improved ability to identify and articulate a line of investigation that interests them, along with their motivations and strategies for embarking on that path. 

ART105: Technical Drawing
This is an introductory course focusing on the understanding and practical application of drawing from imagination using codified systems of construction and representation. During this course we will gain a working knowledge of how structured systems of drawing can be used to both ideate and communicate ideas. Emphasis is placed on learning the basics of linear perspective and the use of drawing to create objects and environments as an inventive process, the development of technical hand skills, the application of those skills using drawing tools, and the introduction and exploration of digital processes such as computer assisted drawing (CAD).

ART106: Figure Drawing
This course is an introduction to drawing the human form. Emphasis is placed on learning to see by stressing intense looking, critical judgment, and precise measuring through direct observation. Students will learn basic anatomy and structure of the human form as well as explore emotive possibilities. Studies from the model will be given context through exploration of the historical context of drawing from the figure. Most class periods will be spent drawing from the nude model but may also include clothed figure studies and portraiture. In-class image presentations, discussions, and demonstrations will reinforce the basic concepts. Prerequisite: ART 121, or permission of the instructor. Non-majors are encouraged to contact the Art Department to seek permission.

Full semester, 1 credit course

ART281: Contemporary Art Forum
This is a lecture-based course that focuses on the discussion of contemporary visual art and design issues and their relationship to fundamental visual art practices. Students will attend lectures by visiting artists, write reflective responses, attend one field trip to a contemporary art venue, and attend break-out discussion sessions. The course uses a credit/no credit system based on attendance and written responses to lectures. Students will be exposed to current trends and issues in the art world, causing them to think critically of their place in contemporary practice of art and design.

Foundation Program Course Requirements for the Different Degree Programs

Studio Art
First Semester: ART121, ART102, ART105, ART281
Second Semester: ART111, ART103, ART104, ART106, ART281
Take one additional ART281 in the second year

Art Education
First Semester: ART121, ART102, ART103, ART281
Second Semester: ART111, ART106, ART104 or ART105

Communication Design
First Semester: ART111, ART102, ART105, ART281
Second Semester: ART121, ART103, ART104

Art History
Take any six hours

Technical Requirements

Students will need Adobe Creative Cloud or Creative Suite software, Illustrator and Photoshop. MacBookPro 15" laptop is preferred, but a 13" or a PC with the required software is acceptable.